Location in Zeeland
|City Hall||Middelburg City Hall|
|o Body||Municipal council|
|o Mayor||Harald Bergmann (VVD)|
|o Total||53.04 km2 (20.48 sq mi)|
|o Land||48.54 km2 (18.74 sq mi)|
|o Water||4.50 km2 (1.74 sq mi)|
|Elevation||3 m (10 ft)|
|o Density||994/km2 (2,570/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
Middelburg (Dutch: ['m?d?lb?rx] ) is a city and municipality in the south-western Netherlands serving as the capital of the province of Zeeland. Situated on the central peninsula of the Zeeland province, Midden-Zeeland (consisting of former islands Walcheren, Noord-Beveland and Zuid-Beveland), it has a population of about 48,000.
In terms of technology, Middelburg played a role in the Scientific Revolution at the early modern period. The city was historically a center of lens crafting in the Golden Age of Dutch science and technology. The invention of the microscope and telescope is often credited to Middelburg spectacle-makers (including Zacharias Janssen and Hans Lippershey) in the late 16th century and early 17th century.
The city of Middelburg dates back possibly to the late 8th century or early 9th century. The first mention of Middelburg was as one of three fortified towns (borgs) erected on Walcheren (then an island) to guard against Viking raids. In 844 a monastery was built on the site, which remained an active Catholic foundation until the Reformation. Foundations for Middelburg's "stately and picturesque" cathedral (one of only two pre-Reformation cathedrals in The Netherlands, along with St. Martin's in Utrecht) were first laid in the 10th century; additional construction continued through the Middle Ages.
Middelburg was granted city rights in 1217. During the Middle Ages, it became an important trading centre in the commerce between England and the rising cities of Flanders. The town continued to gain in power and prestige during the 13th and 14th centuries.
From 1559 to 1603, Middelburg was the episcopal see of a Catholic bishopric covering all Zeeland. In the Eighty Years' War, Middelburg was captured from the Spanish forces during a long siege (1572-1574). The northern provinces of the original Low Countries won their independence from their former Spanish Habsburg rulers and formed The Netherlands, a Protestant state. Later, in the 17th century (the Dutch Golden Age), Middelburg became, after Holland's metropolis Amsterdam, the most important center for the East India Company of Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (VOC) or Dutch East India Company.
Middelburg played an important role in the 17th century slave trade.
Samuel Ben Israel, son of Menasseh Ben Israel, is buried in Middelburg at the Sephardic burial site located at the 'Jodengang' outside the citywall. Menasseh Ben Israel negotiated with Cromwell the opening of England, and its colonies, to the Jews. Middelburg also has an Ashkenazic burial site, which is located at the Walensingel inside the city wall. In 1994 the synagogue was restored, as it was partially destroyed during the Second World War. This synagogue was the third one to be built in the Netherlands during the Golden Age. In the hall of the railway station there is a plaque of remembrance for the Jews of Zeeland who started their journey to the death camps from the Middelburg train station.
About a third of the old city centre was devastated by bombs and fire in the early phases of World War II, on May 17, 1940. It is still not certain if German bombers or French artillery were responsible. The town was captured and liberated by British troops during Operation Infatuate on 5 November 1944. After the War, as much of the destroyed part of the old town center was rebuilt and restored along pre-War lines as far as was possible. The city's archives, however, had been incinerated during the German bombardment.
Modern Middelburg has preserved and regained much of its historic and picturesque character. There are lavish 17th and 18th century merchant houses and storehouses standing along canals, of a similar style as found in cities like Amsterdam. The old city moats are still there, as are two of the city gates, the Koepoort Gate and the varkenspoort Gate. Part of the 18th century moat and defence works, however, were demolished in the 19th century to make way for a commercial canal that crosses Walcheren from Vlissingen to Veere. The medieval abbey is still in use today, as a museum and as the seat of the provincial government.
The painter Pieter Gaal, (1769-1819) was born and, after traveling over Europe to paint, settled and died here.
Another well-known citizen of Middelburg was the admiral and explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who was born in the city in 1659 and died there in 1729. Roggeveen discovered Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the South Pacific Ocean on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1722. Further discoveries on the same journey included islands of the Tuamotu group, now part of French Polynesia.
On 31 January 1723, Petronella Johanna de Timmerman, scientist and poet, was born here. In 1774 she was inducted as an honorary member of the academy Kunstliefde Spaart Geen Vlijt. Also, she presented the academy with poems, translated from French plays. She died on 2 May 1786 in Utrecht.
When William of Orange decided to found the first university in the Netherlands in 1575, he initially considered locating it in Middelburg. Ultimately he chose Leiden, however, and Middelburg--as well as all of Zeeland--remained without a university until 2004 when University College Roosevelt (formerly known as Roosevelt Academy), affiliated with Utrecht University, was established.
Middelburg has a rugby club, Oemoemenoe, and four football (soccer) clubs: MZVC, Zeelandia Middelburg, Jong Ambon and FC Dauwendaele. Jong Ambon is translated Young Ambon, and consists of mostly Ambonese players. FC Dauwendaele is the main club in Dauwendaele.
Middelburg has a railway station with intercity train connections to Vlissingen, Goes, Roosendaal, Rotterdam, The Hague, Leiden, Schiphol International Airport, Amsterdam, and Almere, among others. Two trains leave every hour in both directions.